Portion of Boracay island closed after pooping incident

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019   •   1142

(L-R) A woman buries a soiled diaper in the sand while another woman washes the child’s behind on the beach.

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday (August 14) ordered the temporary closure of Section 1 in Boracay Island following an incident where a foreign tourist allowed her child to poop in its shoreline.

A video of the tourist went viral on social media which also showed another woman burying a used diaper into the sand, according to the narration in the recording.

Cimatu, who heads the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), ordered a 2 to 3-day closure of a portion of the beach where the defecation incident happened to allow clean-up operation.

The closed portion was cordoned off and placed with markers that say: “Temporarily closed for swimming. (Clean up ongoing.)”

Within the 48 to 72-hour rehabilitation period, water samples from the affected area will be observed and checked until the tests reveal that water quality is restored to safe level.

According to BIATF General Manager Naty Bernardino, the closure order covers the 100 meter beachfront of Station 1 where the incident happened.

“Mayroong nakabantay doon na (The area is guarded by a) PNP personnel to really enforce the no swimming policy temporary,” Bernardino said.

Meanwhile, the official said they are planning to review all existing municipal ordinances to determine if they remain relevant to the current situation in the tourist island.

“There’s a need to, you know, palakasin pa iyong penalties niya (strengthen the penalities). (Strengthen the) penalty system para talaga ma-prevent, ma-deter ang mga (to prevent, to deter the) violators from doing various violations,” Bernardino said.

Based on the current municipal ordinance of Malay, Aklan, illegal waste disposal in public places in Boracay such as the beach area is punishable with P2,500 fine which, according to Bernardino, is definitely a small amount. – MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

Cimatu heads to the Middle East as forced evacuation of OFWs begins

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is leaving for the Middle East on Thursday (January 9) to oversee the immediate repatriation of Filipinos there amid the escalating tension between the United States and Iran that is affecting all other Gulf states.

President Rodrigo Duterte reinstated Cimatu as the Philippine Special Envoy to the Middle East, his position under the Arroyo administration, being the most experienced when it comes to conflicts in the Gulf region.

In response to his recommendation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised crisis alert level 4 in Iraq which orders mandatory repatriation of all Filipinos living and working there.

Iraq holds a number of US military bases which are potential targets by Iranian retaliation following the death of Iran’s top military general Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike launched by the US.

“Pipilitin namin lalo na sa Iraq. Nagawa na namin ito kasi ayaw talaga nilang umalis. Hanggang sa ma-convince namin, (We will force them especially those in Iraq. We did this in the past because some Filipinos really refused to leave. (We will force them) until they are convinced,)” Cimatu said.

“(They assume, things are still okay.) They don’t know yet. This is a forced evacuation. We have to forced them really,” he added.

In a press briefing Wednesday (January 8), Cimatu confirmed that a total of 1,592 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) volunteered for repatriation and are set to leave Iraq as soon as they are cleared to go.

They will be moved out of Baghdad to Jordan and from there, they will be transferred to Dubai where they can board their flights to the Philippines.

Cimatu is confident that the process of repatriation will succeed for the safe evacuation of Filipinos, especially those who will move by land.

They will make sure to put up Philippine flags for identification.

Cimatu said Dubai will be repatriation’s central logistic base since there are direct flights from Dubai to the Philippines.

From the Philippines, Cimatu will fly to Doha, Qatar before he attempts entry to Iraq to facilitate the evacuation of Filipinos there.

One concern, Cimatu said, is the situation of Filipinos who are married to Iranian nationals.

Cimatu said they are ready to assist Philippine passport holders but their Iranian spouses may only leave if their government allows them to.

The Philippines also has an existing ban of workers to Lebanon and repatriation has been ongoing since the start of the civil unrest there.

Secretary Cimatu assured that all Philippine posts in different gulf states have contingency plans in place in case alert level 4 is raised in their areas of jurisdiction. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Cimatu to establish base in Qatar for immediate evacuation of Filipinos in Iraq

Marje Pelayo   •   January 7, 2020

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is setting up plans for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The President has ordered Cimatu to oversee the situations in the Middle East amid the ongoing conflict between the United States and Iran following the killing of Iran’s top military commander Qasem Soleimani.

“I will do my best to do another mission for our country,” Cimatu assured.

Cimatu served as Special Envoy to the Middle East during the Iraq war in 2003.

He said he will immediately fly to the Middle East once his documents are settled.

He plans to stay in Qatar where he can lay the plans for the repatriation of OFWs in Iraq.

“I plan to go to Qatar, establish our base there and from there we’ll see kung would be able to go inside Iraq,” he said.

Cimatu will recommend raising Alert Level 4 in Iraq to pave way for forced or mandatory evacuation.

Iraq hosts a number of US Military bases thus it is highly susceptible to attack by Iranian forces.

“We have to move out immediately the Filipinos out of Iraq,” Cimatu said.

“Because I believe that this could be the target, initially the US facilities inside Baghdad. Almost the same area where the Iranian general was killed,” he added.

The official targets to repatriate first Filipinos working and living near US facilities in Iraq before they move to other gulf countries with US military bases such as Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.

“The best way for the moment is for them to leave Iraq immediately,” he said.

Secretary Cimatu also confirmed that Philippine representatives have also been deployed to Iran to assess the situation of Filipinos there.

Cimatu worries, however, how to deal with the situation of undocumented Filipinos.

Nevertheless, Cimatu calls on the relatives of undocumented Filipinos in the Middle East to coordinate with authorities to locate their loved ones especially those within the possible target areas.

“Ang parents naman nila rito ang magsasabi that they are there, so ito yung mga sources namin kung saan talaga sila, (Their parents here can tell us if they are there so they will be our sources to identify their exact locations),” Cimatu concluded. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Boracay stinks of days-old island waste

Marje Pelayo   •   January 2, 2020

BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – Garbage is everywhere in Boracay Island after days of heavy rains and winds brought about by Typhoon Ursula.

A source sent UNTV images showing piles of garbage along the sidewalks believed to be from households and commercial establishments within the island.

The source said that piles of trash have been there for more than eight days already and that no help from the local government has come to transfer the garbage even domestic wastes out of the island.

Power lines are still cut except for the main roads which causes heavier burden to residents because the price of fuel particularly diesel has soared to P57/L – P67/L.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) explained that the typhoon not only affected the garbage collectors but it also damaged their equipment.

“Ang tunay pong sitwasyon ay biktima po ang mga kasama natin diyan na maglilinis nung Boracay, (The real situation there is, even our men who are supposed to collect and clear the garbage were also victims or affected by the typhoon,)” noted Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

What’s worse, the official said, is that residents lack discipline.

They keep on piling garbage even right after the previous batch has been collected.

The Department, nevertheless, promised to send additional personnel and dump trucks to collect the garbage and clear the island.

Antiporda also confirmed allowing exemptions to permit the delivery of petroleum products into the island. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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